NORTH EAST ARGENTINA

Iguazu Falls, Atlantic Forest, Pampas and Ibera Wetlands

 

 

 

 

 

Our previous Argentina tours have taken us birding in some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Crowning these and ranked as the world’s most spectacular waterfall, Iguazu straddles the borders of Brazil and Argentina.

 

The bird-rich Atlantic Forest stretches along the coast of Brazil before turning inland to terminate at Iguazu. Various toucans, potoos and manakins play second fiddle to the awesome view straight down the ‘Devil’s Throat’. No birder can fail to be distracted from their hobby by the magnificent view. This is where the mighty Parana River cascades into a bottomless gorge where Great Dusky Swifts dive through the powerful cataract to enter their nests. Along the trails, a face to face encounter with a hummingbird or band of marauding Coatis is something few can ever forget.

 

We reach Iguazu by traversing vast areas of pampas grasslands and wetlands that rival the Brazilian Pantanal. Enormous Jabiru Storks tower above the Rufescent Tiger-herons, Southern Screamers and Wattled Jacanas that feed beside Caiman and Capybara.

 

Armadillos and Guinea Pigs scurry through the grass where tinamous skulk and rheas stride. Islands of scrub hold Strange-tailed Tyrants and Black-and-white Monjitas. This Persil-white bird resembles our redstart in structure but its plumage is completely at odds with the wooded habitat it resides in.

 

On private estancias in the land of the gaucho, we will visit the grasslands, coastal mudflats and marshes. Various specialities and highly localised species can be found on this trip as we follow the River Plate upstream to the mighty Parana River, eventually leading us to Iguazu.

 

ITINERARY

 

SAN CLEMENTE

Our daytime flight arrives in the city of Buenos Aires in the evening. We will spend the night in the capital before birding our way to San Clemente the next day. One of the best known images of Argentina comes from the Pampas grasslands. Although it is the country’s most developed region, it still maintains vast expanses of wilderness where birds are tame and abundant. South of Buenos Aires, the small coastal town of San Clemente is by the Atlantic Ocean. As we drive through the flat terrain, we'll explore grasslands, marshes, mudflats and woods adjacent to the Rio de la Plata estuary. Our ultimate destination is Punta Rasa Migratory Bird Reserve, a sandy peninsula that divides the river from the Atlantic Ocean. We spend two nights here giving us time to visit some private estancias, cattle ranches typical of the region, where farming is a friendly activity for wildlife.

 

Some special birds that we will look for are Greater Rhea, Spotted Nothura, Olrog’s Gull, South American Painted-Snipe, Southern Screamer, Cinereous Harrier, Hudson's Canastero, Bay-capped Wren-spinetail, Firewood-gatherer, Tufted Tit-spinetail, Hellmayr’s Pipit and Scarlet-headed Blackbird.

 

At Punta Rasa we'll look for shorebirds such as American Oystercatcher, Hudsonian Whimbrel, Hudsonian Godwit, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, White-rumped Sandpiper, Red Knot, Sanderling and American Golden Plover. Black Skimmer occurs here with several species of terns: Snowy-crowned, Cayenne, Common, Royal and Gull-billed.

 

Other wildlife present in the area includes Coypu, Pampas Cavy, White-eared Opossum, Molina's Hog-nosed Skunk, Tawny Tuco-Tuco, Pampas Fox and Seven-banded Armadillo.

 

IBERA MARSHES

After some early birding near town, we return to Buenos Aires to catch a short flight to Posadas. Upon arrival, we transfer to an estancia in the Ibera Marshes for a three night stay. Here we have three days devoted to exploring the marshes by foot and by boat.

 

In the vast plains of Argentine Mesopotamia, the Ibera marshes stand out, an immense and untouched wilderness. Comparable to the Brazilian Pantanal and the Venezuelan Llanos, this wetland ecosystem is the second largest in the world and a huge part (5000 square miles) is protected as a nature reserve.

 

Birdwatching and photographic opportunities are endless in this wildlife paradise. Dense stands of water lilies, water hyacinths, papyrus and cattails host a myriad of birds. Jabiru Stork, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Large-billed Tern, Savanna Hawk, Crested Doradito, White-headed Marsh-Tyrant, Black-capped Donacobius and Scarlet-headed Blackbird are just some of the jewels to be found here.

 

Several threatened and highly localized species inhabit the adjacent grasslands, including Greater Rhea, Black-and-white Monjita, Strange-tailed Tyrant, Ochre-breasted Pipit and numerous pretty seedeaters. Woodlands host numerous beauties such as Scissor-tailed Nightjar, Striped Cuckoo, Purple-throated Euphonia, Yellow-billed Cardinal and Green-winged Saltator. Other animals regularly found here include Capybara (the world’s largest rodent), South American River Otter, Grey Brocket Deer and the graceful Marsh Deer. Yellow Anaconda and two species of caiman are also likely to be found.

 

After another morning birding the forest and woods of Ibera, we will drive north towards Ituzaingo, on the shore of the Parana river for a one night stay. A night excursion to a nearby reserve is a highlight before we continue to Iguazu the next day.

 

IGUAZU

North of Ibera, the Argentine province of Misiones holds the world’s largest block of Interior Atlantic Forest; the habitat with the highest biodiversity in the country, together with the famous Iguazu Falls. Birding around the falls is phenomenal, and the pristine forests add an extra set of species. Once in Puerto Iguazu, the gardens of the hotel will serve as a great introduction to the local birds. The fantastic Iguazu Falls await us the next day, which will be spent in the national park. A number of trails give access to the forest, and the boardwalks provide the best possible views of the falls. A helicopter ride to give a super view can be arranged during our stay here.

 

The forest here is laden with bromeliads, orchids and other epiphytes. Five species of toucan and stunners such us Surucua Trogon, Blue-winged Parrotlet, Chestnut-bellied Euphonia, Blue-naped Chlorophonia, Green-headed Tanagers, Solitary Tinamou, Black-fronted Piping-guan, Spot-backed Antshrike and Red-ruffed Fruitcrow also occur here. The view of the ‘Devil’s Throat’, at the centre of the falls, is truly amazing, and is topped with hundreds of Great Dusky Swifts that fly overhead. Mammals are also an attraction here: Brown Capuchin, South American Coati, Guianan Squirrel, Red Brocket Deer and Azara's Agouti are likely to be found.

 

In town, we will visit a hummingbird garden with feeders that attract up to ten species at any given time, and as many as 100 individuals flying around!

 

After four nights here we make our way to the airport for our flight back to Buenos Aires and then home.

 

PACE

Breakfast will be early in order to take advantage of the best birding. Full days will be spent in the field with short/medium length walks. Birding will be mostly on flat ground or gently sloping terrain. At Iguazu there are steps down to the falls, which can be done at your own pace.

 

ACCOMMODATION AND FOOD

Full-board accommodation is provided with one night at the Hotel Lafayette, Buenos Aires, two nights at the Hotel Fontainebleau, San Clemente, three nights at the Estancia San Juan Poriahu, Ibera, one night at the Howard Johnson Hotel, Ituzaingo and four nights at the Orquideas Palace Hotel, Iguazu. All are of a good standard with en suite bathrooms. Packed lunches will be taken when away from the hotel in the middle of the day.

 

PRICE INCLUDES …..

All birdwatching excursions with expert leader and local guide, full-board accommodation (starting with breakfast on 13th, ending with lunch on 23rd), soft drinks at meal times, local transport by mini-coach, reserve entrance fees, domestic flights, international flights and airport taxes.

 

WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED

Travel insurance. Personal items, alcoholic drinks, laundry.

 

INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS

Return flight from London Heathrow to Buenos Aires using the scheduled services of Iberia Airlines. Outbound flight departs early morning, return flight arrives back late afternoon. Domestic flights from Manchester and other UK airports are avaiable on this tour. See booking form for details.

 

 

12 nights including

one overnight flight:

                               

Principal leader:

 

Local guide:

 

Maximum group size:

 

Cost with discount

(if you book before

30th July 2011):

 

Full Cost:

 

Single supplement:

 

Deposit:

 

 

           

12th to 24th November 2011

 

Phil Palmer

 

German Pugnali

 

12 clients with one leader

and a local guide

 

 

£3660 per person sharing

 

£3810 per person sharing

 

£390

 

£600

 

 

 

The Sickle-winged Nightjar has an uniquely shaped wing. It will be great to see these again!

 

A Black Vulture soars in front of the mighty falls.

Iguaçu from the air. We can arrange a helicopter ride for you too!

A Great Dusky Swift takes a shower in the force

 

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